How many of you have ever heard the word "urban legend". No, not the movie series but the name of those scary or funny stories you heard as a kid, a teenager, and even as an adult (if you are one yet).
Urban legends are stories meant to be true, that have supposedly happened to a friend of a friend (a person you indirectly know through tales and reports from friends or family). The most famous of these stories are: The Alligators in the Sewers, The Maniac on the Roof (Also known as The Boyfriend's Death), and The Babysitter (which I will inform you of now).
The Babysitter (An Urban Legend)
If you don't recognize this title of the stories, maybe you'll better remember it by the titles The Phycho Upstairs or When A Stranger Calls. In 1970-something a movie came out based on not only this campfire legend but also the last title I told you about. This movie, When A Stranger Calls, is one of my favorites, and it can be skillfully divided into thirds: One third, The Babysitter, is a chilling dramatization of the urban legend. The second third, The Killer, is about Duncan Cox, the murderer who kept threatening the babysitter via the phone, and his adventures after breaking out of prison, chased by a dedicated police officer named John Clifford. The last third, The Stalking, focuses on the babysitter, Jill, who is now middle-aged and has a husband and kids. Duncan is stalking her again, and in a blood-curdling climax, Duncan is shot by Clifford while attempting to strangle Jill.
All in all, this thriller movie is awesome, and, being old and having bad special effects, can be enjoyed by anyone. Its not so great remake, made in 2004, deletes the second and last thirds, only focusing on the urban legend. This is why I, and most likely many others, absolutely hate the remake.
Now, since I've kept you all waiting, I'll tell you my version of the urban legend:
A teenage girl named Jill (yes, I'm naming her after When A Stranger Calls) gets a call one day asking if she can babysit the two adorable children of Doctor Mandrakis and his wife. The teenage girl accepts, and arrives safely that night. The Doctor, of course, lives in a mansion with two floors, an attic, and maybe even a basement. The parents leave for their dinner party, and after a dinner with the kids, she sends them upstairs to brush their teeth and tuck them in. After hearing some suspicious thuds in the attic, Jill dismisses them as wind or a draft blowing around a box. She goes downstairs to spend some thoutful time (as in 3 seconds) doing her homework, and then heads to the living room in front of the stairs to watch TV and talk on the phone. You can imagine the philisophical conversations: "And then she, like, totally, like, said, like -- OMG! There's another call coming in! Hold on!" The incoming call seems to be nothing but mysterious weezing until right before Jill hangs up, a sinister voice cackles over the line "Check the children". Jill, wondering what to do, goes upstairs and peeks through the door at the children, who are still asleep. She goes downstairs again, just to get another call from the man, this time demandingly saying, "How were the children? Check them again." The girl hangs up, thinking its a prank. But after a minute the phone rings again. Its the same man, this time a bit angry. He says, "Have you checked the children?" He repeats this over and over until Jill hangs up. This time Jill is scared. She dials 911, and the operator answers asking what the problem is. Jill tells them about the seemingly threatening calls she's been recieving and asked what can they do to help her. The operator responds, "Listen, I'm sorry but we can't do much for you. I'll send a policeman to stay with you if you want, and meanwhile I'll trace the call the next time he calls. But when he calls, don't hang up. If it sounds like he's going to hang up, try to keep him on." Jill answers the phone hurriedly the next time it rings. It's the man. He's angry, "Why haven't you checked the children?!!" Jill screams, "What do you want?" The man, seeming to have calmed down, says, "Check the children, Jill." Jill is now frightened. Closing all the blinds and curtains and making sure all the doors are locked, she says, "How... do you know... my name?" No response. Jill is beginning to cry, "Stop it! Okay!" A thought enters her head, "Are you watching me, you creep?" The man answers with a slow and steady, "Yes." Jill can't bear it. She hangs up. Instantly the phone rings. Jill crawls to the floor in front of the couch and hesitatingly answers. It's the operator, frantically saying, "Jill, please listen! The policemen we sent are outside waiting. I've informed them of what's happening. LEAVE THE HOUSE! Don't go upstairs for the kids! Don't go to the kitchen or any other room! Just head for the nearest door and go outside to the police!" Jill widens her eyes, "Why?" The operator answers sadly "Because... he's calling from inside the house." Jill turns and looks around, just to see a light come on upstairs. She hears a faint CLICK! on the phone. She sees the light cast the shadow of a man with an ax and a coil of rope. To Jill's fright, the shadow shows the the man is headed for the stairs, and that the closest door is locked, bolted, and right next to the staircase. Frantic, Jill runs to the front door, dropping the phone on the couch, and hurries to unbolt and unlock the front door. By the time it's open, the killer is already headed down the stairs, slowly and menacingly, the psychotic gaze from his eyes constantly headed to Jill. Jill bolts out the door and screams as she feels something grab her...
just to find that she is in the arms of the sherrif, who is trying to calm her down as tears begin to gush from her eyes and her head spins round trying to gather her surroundings. As the tears stop, she sees policemen dragging the psycho, an escaped mental patient, into the police car as the doctor and his wife jump out of their car, having just arrived home. The doctor runs up to Jill and sits next to her asking what happened. She tells him, and his wife hears the news. Everyone is expecting the worst of the doctor's children who had been upstairs: a 4-year-old boy and his 6-year-old sister. All of a sudden, Jill gets up and walks into the house, tapping everything she touched there, angry and scared of what will happen next. She walks upstairs to see if she can help the policemen find the children, when lo and behold, who should meet her on the staircase but the two frightened children, running into her arms and sobbing, "Who was that man? Where's mommy and daddy?"
For those of you who would like an explanatio of events, it's simple once you think about it: The thuds from the attic had been the psycho breaking in, looking for a place to hide. Going downstairs and finding the children, he got a plan. He hid in their room with a phone in his hand and kept calling the babysitter, hoping she would follow his instructions and upon checking the children, would enter their room to actually check them in their beds. When she did so he would tie her up and make her watch as he killed the two little tykes and then killed her. When she went upstairs but only peeked through the door, he was forced to actually tie and gag the children and put them in the closet, and lay in wait for her to hopefully again come upstairs. When she got more and more scared he got suspicious that she had called the cops, and he listened in on one of her phone calls, just to learn his suspicians were true. Hanging up the phone he menacingly left the children to go downstairs and kill the babysitter first, but did not expect police to barge in, grab him, and later find the children and untie them.
In my version, the kids were lucky they had a truly gruesome fo who would delight in making Jill watch them die, instead of just killing them on the spot. In the original When A Stranger Calls movie, the plot is very like mine except they use the more famous version in which the kids die before the killer even begins calling Jill. In the remake, though, the director or producer used telekinesis to find my version, tweek it, and use it for their film. Stupid Hollywood.